The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a modern mystery novel that takes its title from a Sherlock Holmes story. A dog is murdered in the middle of the night, stabbed with a garden fork and his body is discovered by Christopher a teenager who is different from other teenagers his age. Christopher has Aspergers Syndrome and sees the world differently; he struggles with emotions and reading them in other people and why the world isn’t as logical as a maths problem. Christopher appoints himself detective and begins looking for clues as to who could possibly have killed poor Wellington. This is not a mystery novel in the conventional sense, it’s true there is a murder but this isn’t the only mystery in Christopher’s life and soon his quest to discover the murderer leads him on to even bigger discoveries about his life and the people around him.
I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when I was at university as part of a Detective Fiction unit. I only really have vague recollections of this, which could be because it was six years ago or it could be due to my having way too much fun being a student, either way I was keen to pick it up again. It is certainly an interesting novel. Christopher as a narrator is quite refreshing; as he has difficulty understanding different emotions and takes everything at face value he tells a very matter of fact story. This direct narrative voice means that as a reader you are at an advantage and can work out what is happening early than Christopher, which for me makes a change as I am terrible at solving the mystery in typical crime fictions.
I think Haddon has created a believable and interesting character in Christopher and his narrative is engaging. It is disjointed in places, with Christopher writing about how he discovered the body one chapter to how he hates everything brown and yellow the next. These little glimpses of his liked and dislikes help to build a clearer image of Christopher and what makes him tick and these insights make his story even more incredible. I also enjoyed the little diagrams and drawings throughout, although the maths parts of it left me looking slightly blank. I am still torn over whether or not I want to teach this next year. I know my students would love it and it is a very easy read but I don’t know if I feel really excited about it. That may be because it is nearly the holidays and I am switching off or if I just much prefer Journey’s End. To be fair I have time for both of them, so something for me to think about over the next few weeks. >